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Microsoft Visual Studio Online: Distributed Development for Visual Studio

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Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the public preview of Visual Studio Online (VSO) at its Ignite conference. The service provides managed development environments that can be used with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. It also features an online code editor with IDE capabilities such as debugging, code completion, and collaborative sessions.

The new Azure service was announced under private preview earlier this year. Visual Studio Online works as a web-based companion to Visual Studio IDE and Visual Studio Code. It is built around the concept of distributed development, providing managed development environments and a web-based code editor.

From the distributed perspective, Visual Studio Online is fundamentally an extension of the Remote Development Extension Pack for Visual Studio Code. Managed development environments work as remote containers that host all the computing processes associated with development (compiling, debugging, restoring, etc.). They also hold all development-related configuration, including the source code (which can be linked to a Git repository).

As the name implies, development environments are managed under Azure. They can be either cloud-hosted (Azure) or self-hosted (bridged locally with a Visual Studio Code extension). Nevertheless, using development environments require the developer to create an Azure account.

VSO also features a web-based code editor with advanced capabilities, such as debugging, code completion, and collaborative development. Online debugging is possible due to the use of development environments, and code completion uses IntelliSense. Collaborative development is powered by Visual Studio Live Share, allowing project sharing and real-time collaborative code editing.

(source: Microsoft Ignite)

Since VSO is based on Visual Studio Code, it provides support for its existing extensions and features. It also includes support for Visual Studio projects and solutions. The online editor graphical interface is nearly identical to Visual Studio Code, which facilitates the onboarding process for Visual Studio developers.

The release was well-received by the community. Giovanni Bassi, Microsoft MVP and founder of Lambda3, tweeted during the conference (free translation):

Just tested the recently announced #VisualStudioOnline with a #nodejs project. It works perfectly. Git, npm, debug, node, everything OK. A complete environment.

Visual Studio Online is currently available under public preview. In addition to the online editor, VSO environments can also be used with Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio 2019. The online editor is supported on Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) and Google Chrome.

(source: Microsoft Ignite)


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